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April 22, 2014 / mintcustard

Charlie Bucket’s Cabbage soup – an antidote to all that Easter chocolate!

One of my previous incarnations was as the writer of a cook book that brought food from the movies to life, Movie Dinners by Becky Thorn. After all the chocolate indulgence of Easter perhaps we need a big bowl of Mrs Bucket’s cabbage soup to kick start the detox!

 

Charlie and the chocolate factory (2005)

“sometimes I feel I’ve eaten cabbage soup forever.”

Cabbage soup

Living in the shadow of Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory in a tumble down, dilapidated cottage the Bucket family exist on a subsistence diet of cabbage soup and if they are lucky, bread. Frost covered cabbages squat in the garden of this poor but kindly family. Charlie’s mother dispatches several of these cabbages to the great soup tureen in the sky almost as soon as the movie begins using a scarily large cleaver. The monotony of the family’s diet in such a dark, depressing and impoverished hovel contrasts superbly with the vivid and extraordinary culinary creations escaping from the imagination of Willy Wonka. This grinding banality is underlined by Grandpa George complaining that “sometimes I feel I’ve eaten cabbage soup forever.”

Smells are incredibly evocative, in the movie’s opening scene Charlie stops close to the factory gates, closes his eyes and breathes in deeply, savouring the wonderful smell of melting chocolate. I very much doubt he does the same when he nears the front door of his family home. Cabbage soup can be filling and tasty, something Mrs Bucket struggled to achieve. She watered down the soup on bad days and on days of plenty added extra cabbage because “nothing goes better with cabbage than cabbage”.

Let me prove to you, and the Buckets, that with a few inexpensive additions cabbage soup can be tasty and even looked forward to. Mind you, as good as this is I’d swap it all for a bar of Wonka’s whipple scrumptious fudge mallow delight and a trip round a chocolate factory with Johnny Depp.

Mise en scene

1  cabbage (any variety you choose from brussel tops to Cavalo Nero depending on your finances or aspirations.)

2 large potatoes, diced (floury are best for this recipe)

Several rashers of streaky bacon

1 onion or leek chopped finely

750ml stock and a jug of hot water

Splash of milk or cream

Knob of butter

Salt

White pepper

It’s all in the edit!.

  1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Trim any damaged areas and cut out the thicker central ribs as these are very tough. Shred the cabbage very finely, Chiffonade is the technical term for this. Rinse and place in a bowl of water.
  2. Cut the bacon into small pieces and place into a large pan. Cook the bacon until very crispy. Remove from the saucepan but leave as much bacon fat behind as possible.
  3. Add the onion or leeks to the bacon fat and cook until softened. You may need a small knob of butter or splash of oil here. You decide.
  4. Drain the shredded cabbage and add all but a handful to the pan. Allow to wilt and soften for two or three minutes and then add in the stock. Bring to a simmer, tip in the cubed potatoes, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes give the whole thing a vigorous stir. This will break up the potatoes a little and thicken the soup. Use the hot water here if the soup has become very thick. Add in your splash of milk or cream, the remaining handful of cabbage and season with salt and white pepper. Cook on for another 5 minutes to soften the later cabbage addition.
  6. Serve in a warm bowl topped with the crispy bacon pieces.
  7. Anyone who licks their bowl clean should be rewarded with a square or two of good quality dark chocolate and a Johnny Depp movie of their choice.
April 20, 2014 / mintcustard

Bird’s nest slices – an Easter no cook traybake

Bird's nest slices

Bird’s nest slices

My little ones now drive cars, drink cocktails and carry ID but occasionally they still hanker for past times. When I suggested that I make some Easter nests they were very enthusiastic. Then I thought, actually those nests are fine, but my recipe makes 20 mini cakes and as adults perhaps we’d like slightly larger cakes but fewer of them? I toyed with using muffin cases for bigger nests but in the end decided to put the whole mix in a baking tin and cut the nests into slices. Don’t panic though the tops are still garnished with mini chocolate eggs. If you wanted to have slightly less chocolate, can’t see why myself but you might, those large rice paper daisies might look pretty on top too.

Waiting to be eaten.

Waiting to be eaten.

Ingredients

6 Shredded Wheat biscuits, crushed

125g butter or margarine (melted)

1tbsp cocoa

1 tbsp golden syrup

150g chocolate, milk or plain as you prefer

1 bag of mini eggs or wafer flowers

Baking tin (6″ x 6″) – lined

How to …

  1. In a mixing bowl, using the end of a rolling pin, crush the Shredded Wheat into crumbs. You could use the fill a plastic bag and whack with a wooden spoon method if you want.
  2. In a large saucepan melt the butter, cocoa and syrup together to make a sauce.
  3. Pour the chocolate sauce onto the Shredded Wheat crumbs and combine thoroughly.
  4. Tip the chocolaty rubble into a lined  tin and press down. Put into the fridge to set.
  5. Bird's nest base

    Bird’s nest base

  6. Once set melt the chocolate and pour over the  base. Decorate with mini eggs. Refrigerate once more until the chocolate is set. Cut into squares and serve.
Waiting to set!

Waiting to set!

No birds or their nests were harmed in the making of this tray bake!

 

 

 

 

April 19, 2014 / mintcustard

Easter Baking at Mintcustard.

I think it is about time I pulled together all my Easter bakes and recipes. Just for my own convenience if no one else’s. I often use Mintcustard as a way to record recipes, so organising them into “chapters” could be the way to go. What do you think?

Firstly the creme egg recipes.

Creme egg doughnuts

Creme egg doughnuts

Creme egg doughnuts Sooo bad for you but fun to bake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden inside.

Hidden inside.

Creme egg cookies These are easy, quick and fun.

 

 

 

 

 

Pimping the waffle recipe.

Pimping the waffle recipe.

An idea for Easter Sunday breakfast might be these Hot cross bun waffles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up the secular Simnel cake complete with bunnies instead of marzipan balls.

Secular Simnel Cake

Secular Simnel Cake

Secular Simnel cake.

Easter Bunnies – making the fondant or marzipan bunnies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Easter egg bundt

An Easter egg bundt

If you prefer a cake with less decoration why not opt for my Easter Egg bundt recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have friends over then why not start the evening, or even lunchtime with an Easter cocktail or two?

 

White rabbit cocktail

White rabbit cocktail

The white rabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Forest Cocktail

Black Forest Cocktail

The Black Forest Cocktail

 

 

 

 

 

 

spring roll and dipping sauce.

spring roll and dipping sauce.

Don’t forget to make use of your leftovers too. If you are having lamb then why not try some Vietnamese lamb spring rolls.

 

 

 

 

 

If you are having a chicken don’t forget to make stock and then perhaps some chicken noodle soup!

Chicken noodle soup

Chicken noodle soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do hope this has been useful. Next week there should be some recipes for that leftover chocolate, leftover chocolate I hear you cry, what’s that!

April 16, 2014 / mintcustard

An Easter Egg bundt.

An Easter egg bundt

An Easter egg bundt

I’m new to this bundt game. I have friends who love them but the tins are expensive and when i saw them in the US at a sensible price I couldn’t get them home for frear of racking up a huge amount of excess luggage fees. So, when I saw this beautiful tin in the sale at Lakeland I was able to treat myself.

Jubilee bundt tin

Jubilee bundt tin

I am now in love. The tin produced this most beautiful cake. I used a marbled bundt recipe from BBC Good Food and it was obviously for a slightly smaller tin than the one I have but nevertheless it it is a start. I shall now get on with creating some recipes of my own.

Cake out from the tin.

Cake out from the tin.

As I had also been sent a selection of Easter goodies to try by Sainsburys I used the Taste the Difference Swiss chocolate mini eggs in milk, dark and white chocolate to decorate the cake. . When looking up the price just now I discover they are on offer at two bags for £3. Bargain! I toyed with leaving them wrapped as they are lovely pastel foils but the teen rightly said that you’d want to eat the cake not pfaff with unwrapping the eggs!

 

Taste the difference Swiss chocolate mini eggs

Taste the difference Swiss chocolate mini eggs

 

The bundt was drizzled with a very simple glace icing and then the unwrapped solid eggs, milk, dark and white chocolate, were popped into the niches in the cakes surface. the hardening glace icing held the eggs in place

Iced and egged.

Iced and egged.

I do wish we could set up some kind of bundt tin lending library, then we could try all the different shapes without either taking out a mortgage to buy them or find cupboard space when we do succumb. I am very fearful this is the first tin of many!

April 14, 2014 / mintcustard

Easter arrives at Mintcustard Mansions.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Something about the Easter break raises my spirits. The lengthening of the days, the blooming of beautiful spring flowers and the fact that the whole time is less pressured than Christmas. The addition of chocolate into this mix does also make life better too.

Sainsburys Easter goodies.

Sainsburys Easter goodies.

How lovely then to receive a box of Easter treats from Sainsburys. My little ones are now in their very late teens so I have less of a panic about the whole of an Easter weekend becoming a blur of chocolate, sugar rushes and tummy aches. However  I was very pleased to see a selection of lovely Easter gifts that were fun but not edible. My young niece and nephew will get these to play with later this week., (I will also get them chocolate too)!

Just a little chocolate.

Just a little chocolate.

For those of us with slightly better self control than a toddler where chocolate is concerned I loved the Belgian chocolate egglets. I’m saving the big egg for Easter Sunday itself and I’m sure there will be others willing to help me demolish it.  I’m going to wash it down with my very own 20cl bottle of taste the difference conegliano prosecco (£3).

Egglets

Egglets

The raisin haters in my family loved the pack of Taste the Difference Double chocolate hot cross buns, (£1.20). They vanished before I could take a photo and have been put on my list for the next trip to the supermarket.

Grown up treats.

Grown up treats.

Thank you to Sainsburys for these goodies. Ill be back in a later post to tell you how I used those solid eggs above in a delicious recipe.

April 13, 2014 / mintcustard

Roasting red peppers for red pepper hummus.

Beautiful sweet red peppers

Beautiful sweet red peppers

There are some kitchen chores that are just that, chores. Boring, repetitive but necessary. One task I really do love though is roasting red peppers. Something about turning those solid, shiny, blocky fruits into a soft, silky and really rather sexy versatile ingredient. The sweetness is intensified and the smokiness adds a real depth of flavour to any dish. I know you can buy jars of the things ready prepared but doing it yourself is so easy and the house smells wonderful too.

At about £1.60 for 6 of these sweet pointed peppers in Lidl these were a real bargain too.

Ingredients

Peppers any colour will do, a mixture gives a great colour lift to any dish.

salt

olive oil

How to

  • Place the peppers in a baking tin and drizzle with a little oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  • You can roast these in the oven at 240c for 20 minutes or until the skin is blackened and blistered.

or

  • Pop them under a grill, turning occasionally until the skin is blackened and blistered.

or

  • Place on a BBQ, turning occasionally again until the skin is blackened and blistered.
De seeded and skinned red peppers.

De seeded and skinned red peppers.

  • Pop the hot steamy peppers into a bowl and cover the top with cling film, this will trap the steam allowing the skin to slide off once the peppers are cooled.
  • Once cooled peel off the skin and de seed. Use the flesh to fill a sandwich, to add garnish to a salad or some pizzaz to a bruschetta. The possibilities are endless.
  • A glass of ice cold sherry and a plate of them as tapas is wonderful too.
  • Try this recipe below if you are a hummus lover.
Red Pepper Hummus

Red Pepper Hummus

Red Pepper Hummus.

Ingredients

Two large red peppers roasted, peeled and deseeded,

1 x 410g can chickpeas

2 tablespoons light tahini

juice of a lemon

good pinch of Maldon salt

4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic peeled and roughly chopped

How to

  • Reserve a couple of thin strips of pepper and a dessert spoon of chickpeas and put them to one side.
  • Put all the ingredients into a blender or your choice – I use a big bowl and a stick blender.
  • Blitz
  • Scrape down and blitz again.
  • Place in a bowl and scatter over the reserved red pepper strips and chick peas.
  • Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve with fresh pitta and crudities.

 

April 12, 2014 / mintcustard

Black Forest cocktail – another Easter cocktail

Black Forest Cocktail

Black Forest Cocktail

I have already said how lovely it was to receive a hamper full of goodies from Aldi to review for Easter. Even better that they gave cocktail and drinks pairings for each Easter treat.

Last night I sampled the dark chocolate marzipan egg that came in the hamper. At only 69p per 100g egg  I wasn’t expecting too much but the chocolate was properly dark and the marzipan dense and toothsome.

Marzipan Egg

The cocktail that was paired with the marzipan egg was a Black Forest Cocktail. Given the marzipan connection this might make a good cocktail to drink with a slice of Simnel cake too.

Cocktail ingredients.

Cocktail ingredients.

Black Forest Cocktail

45 ml Amaretto Liqueur

15 ml whiskey

20 ml double cream

20 ml morello cherry juice

ice cubes

Ground almonds, to rim the glass,

morello cherry and dark chocolate, to garnish.

How to

  • Using amaretto to wet the rim of the glass dip the rim of a Martini glass into ground almonds.
  • Place all the ingredients except the garnish into a cocktail shaker.
  • Shake with the ice.
  • Strain into the prepared Martini glass.
  • Garnish with a cherry and dark chocolate shavings.

I was sent a number of products to try by Aldi, I was not paid for this post and was not obliged to write a review positive or negative of these products.

April 12, 2014 / mintcustard

Hot Cross Bun Waffles

Pimping the waffle recipe.

Pimping the waffle recipe.

In the past, weekend mornings were a whirl of sports kits and strong black coffee. Now the teens are either at Uni or firmly rooted in bed until lunchtime we can indulge in a leisurely breakfast, read the papers and listen to a radio station of our choice. What to have for this breakfast then?

When the children were little and we were on holiday we would have to book into particular hotels in the US as they were the establishments that had waffle makers available for guests to use in the mornings. The girls loved making the waffles which were then covered in butter and syrup. The waffles set them up for the day and washed down with juice and a big bowl of fruit they staved off jet lag for a while too. Fortunately reasonably priced waffle makers hadn’t made it across the pond so the most exotic breakfast we used to have in this house was the occasional big American pancake.

Waffle maker, with a UK plug!

Waffle maker, with a UK plug!

Not so now…. I picked up this waffle maker at Christmas for under £20. The teens were happy but strangely I was ecstatic. Perhaps we booked those hotels for me too! Since then every so often I get it out and treat myself. As we are coming up to Easter I thought I’d try to incorporate Hot Cross Bun flavours. I have left out the raisins, mainly because I don’t have any but also a burnt raisin can easily taint a dish and I want to enjoy my breakfast.

Hot Cross Bun Waffles, with an icing cross for good measure.

Hot Cross Bun Waffles, with an icing cross for good measure.

Hot Cross Bun Waffles – makes enough for 2 to feel full, double quantity for a family.

 

125 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

10 g caster sugar

pinch salt

230 ml milk

1 large free range egg

15 ml vegetable oil

few grinds of nutmeg

good pinch cinnamon

good pinch of allspice

grated rind of half an orange

Simple glace icing to serve.

How to

  • Place all the dry ingredients into a big bowl, including the spices and orange rind.
  • Beat the egg into the milk, add the oil and then pour the wet ingredients into the dry.
  • Whisk together gently until just combined. Don’t be heavy handed as the waffles then become dense and chewy.
  • Pour into your waffle maker and cook as per the manufacturers instructions.
  • Pop onto a place and pipe a cross on the waffles with simple glace icing, if that is too much pfaff then sprinkle of icing sugar and eat.

Happy Easter!

 

April 11, 2014 / mintcustard

Oh Fudge! White chocolate and cranberry Rocky Road fudge to be exact.

White chocolate and cranberry rocky road fudge.

White chocolate and cranberry rocky road fudge.

You know when half way through a tried and trusted recipe disaster strikes. Well that happened yesterday to me. I have made a wonderful fudge recipe from Utterly Scrummy food for families a number of times and it vanishes within seconds of cooling. I had some spare white chocolate and a bag of cranberries so decided to use those this time. Then of course I thought why not go the whole hog and Rocky Road it up with some shortbread crumbs and a few marshmallows.

Knowing I was going to use Michelle’s recipe I asked her if it would be OK to blog it and she graciously said I could.

So why was there a problem in my kitchen yesterday?

The recipe works brilliantly, the flavour combinations are tried and tested, I even remembered to line the tin before starting.

Well, half way through boiling the fudge my trusty sugar thermometer gave up the ghost. I am of an age where I need to put on my reading glasses to read a scale. When the red line vanished I assumed it was “my age” and my glasses had steamed up, but no, the liquid in the tube had split into four distinct parts. Consequently I had no idea of the temperature of the fudge. Yes, I know I could drop a piece into cool water and see if it makes a soft ball, but I’m a scientist by training and I love a gadget! I made a stab at it but I think I was a little out as the final result was a somewhat more grainy than I have had in the past.

Disaster is about to strike!

Disaster is about to strike!

It was still devoured though and tastes brilliant so Thank you Michelle at Utterly Scrummy for the inspiration and the recipe.

 

Ingredients

Fudge ingredients

Fudge ingredients

Please use Michelle’s recipe but I added in white chocolate rather than milk, 75g dried cranberries, two chopped shortbread fingers and a handful of mini marshmallows pressed into the top as the fudge cooled.

The offending thermometer!

The offending thermometer!

Any suggestions for a good, reliable sugar thermometer, because obviously I am now without one.

April 10, 2014 / mintcustard

Rabbit’s milk and a white chocolate bunny. Easter Cocktails from Aldi.

I am not averse to an alcoholic  beverage, I adore chocolate. For some reason however Easter and cocktails doesn’t or didn’t seem an obvious connection. I have to say I am now converted. Thanks to a beautiful hamper of Easter treats and chocolates sent for me to try by Aldi. Aldi’s core philosophy is to offer high quality, brand like products at low everyday prices.

Easter cocktail hamper.

Easter cocktail hamper.

Choc full, pin intended, of both delicious chocolates and drinks I really didn’t know where to start. The student had returned from University so she helped me decide on the “Rabbit’s milk” cocktail which was designed to pair with the white chocolate bunny.  I’m not a rum drinker usually but I did enjoy the almost milkshake quality of this drink. The rum didn’t overpower the chocolate rather it cut through the richness. I’m still unsure when eating chocolate animals whether decapitation is kindest or should you nibble them feet first?

Rabbit's milk ingredients!

Rabbit’s milk ingredients!

Rabbit’s Milk Cocktail.

30 ml Old Hopking Dark rum

30 ml Cocobay White Rum and Coconut

100 ml cold full cream milk

50 ml double cream

ice

grated white chocolate and cocoa powder to garnish.

How to.

  •  Place all the ingredients (except the white choc and cocoa) into a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a tall glass.
  • Garnish with grated chocolate and a dusting of cocoa powder.
  • Drink whilst nibbling on a Choceur white chocolate bunny (99p)!
Rabbit's milk cocktail.

Rabbit’s milk cocktail.

I was sent a number of products to try by Aldi, I was not paid for this post and was not obliged to write a review positive or negative of these products.

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